|Section of one of the pages of 'Rui Xi Xian Sheng Nian Pu (《瑞溪先生年譜》)', depicting a horseman wearing a long coat with cross hatch quilting pattern, possibly a cotton armour.|
The description of Mian Jia can be found in Jin Tang Jie Zhu Shi Er Chou (《金湯借箸十二籌》) and Yong Chuang Xiao Pin (《湧幢小品》), among other books. Unfortunately, no illustration of any kind can be found in any Ming Dynasty military treatises.
Another mention of cotton armour can be found in Ming Shi (《明史》, History of Ming), which describes "cotton armour of hundred fold" worn by the rebel cavalry of Li Zi Cheng (李自成) as "impervious to arrows and firearms".
Note that Chinese character Mian (棉, cotton) and Mian (綿, silk wadding) were used more or less interchangeably during Ming period, their distinctive meanings only became apparent during Qing period.
|Section of the Ming Dynasty scroll painting 'Chu Jing Tu (《出警图》)', depicting Ming cavalrymen in brigandine armour.|
|Section of the Ming Dynasty scroll painting 'Wang Qiong Shi Ji Tu Ce (《王瓊事蹟圖冊》)', depicting Ming cavalrymen in short brigandine waistcoat.|
Ming Dynasty brigandines usually come in two varieties — a sleeveless, cap sleeve or short sleeve long coat, or sleeveless waistcoat with separate apron-like thigh guard. Both varieties are single-breasted and collarless, with cover fabric usually made of cotton cloth. Ming Dynasty brigandines usually do not include spaudler or vambrace. Separate, all-metal armguards can be used to protect upper limbs.
Contrary to popular misconception, Chinese brigandine was NEVER called Dingjia (釘甲, nail armour). Modern Chinese name for brigandine is Bu Mian Jia (布面甲, lit. 'armour with cloth surface') while Ming and Qing Chinese simply used generic names like "armour" or "iron armour". Brigandine was also referred to as An Jia (暗甲, lit. 'Dark armour' or 'Hidden armour') when used in a contrasting context to lamellar's Ming Jia (明甲, lit. 'Bright armour' or 'Exposed armour').
|Brigandine armour of Qian Feng Ying (前鋒營, vanguard regiment) of the Qing Dynasty Imperial Guards, from 'Huang Chao Li Qi Tu Shi (《皇朝禮器圖式》)'.|
|Studded cotton armour of the Qian Feng Ying (前鋒營) of the Qing Dynasty Imperial Guards, from 'Huang Chao Li Qi Tu Shi (《皇朝禮器圖式》)'.|
A Qing Dynasty Mian Jia shares the same outward appearance as a brigandine, but replaces the steel plates of a brigandine with cotton padding. It is cheaper and less protective than true brigandine, but still fully functional as a stand alone battle armour. Mian Jia was issued to second-line troops such as artillerymen and low quality troops such as the Lu Ying (綠營, Green Standard Army).